If you've been sitting on the travel sidelines or scaling back your plans over the past few years, I hope 2023 has you dreaming about future adventures as travel gets back to normal … but I also hope you're thinking about how to weave some points and miles into your game plan to do it for less.
As you get started, remember this: Not all credit card points and airline miles are created equally.
Some points programs are better than others, and that's where you should be focusing your attention as you look ahead in 2023. Case in point: Scan this list of the top points to earn this year, and you won't find a single airline mileage program or hotel loyalty system. Heading into 2023, flexibility with your points is more important than ever – and that's what this list is all about.
Here are the best credit card points you can earn to fuel your 2023 adventures … and beyond.
Capital One Venture Miles
Capital One has made some huge improvements to its already valuable Venture Miles over the last few years. That wasn't an accident: It all coincided with the launch of their brand new premium travel credit card, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, in late 2021.
That card currently offer with a welcome bonus offer of 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. So does the standard Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, as a matter of fact.
But we think the Venture X might just be the single best travel rewards credit card we've seen. While it has an annual fee of $395, frequent (and even infrequent) travelers can easily offset that, thanks to just two of the many benefits the card offers.
But aside from all the great benefits provided by the Capital One Venture X Card and other Capital One cards, the reason to prioritize earning Venture Miles comes down to their flexibility and value. When it comes to redeeming Venture Miles, you'll have three options.
First, there's the ability to use points to cover almost all travel purchases, by far the easiest way to use your Venture Miles – or any points and miles, for that matter. Just use a Capital One Venture X, Venture, or even a VentureOne credit card to make a travel purchase, then go back and use your miles to erase the expense. Using your miles this way, every Venture Mile is worth 1 cent. That means you can cover a $500 flight, hotel, or rental car using 50,000 miles.
Next, there is a growing list of great transfer partners like Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada Aeroplan, and more, which allow you to really maximize their value – especially if you want to book a business class or first-class seat. Take a look at the full list of Capital One Transfer partners below.
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles||Airline||1:1||Up to five business days|
|Etihad||Airline||1:1||Up to 1 day|
|EVA Air||Airline||2:1.5||Up to five business days|
|Qantas||Airline||1:1||Up to 1 day|
|TAP Air Portugal||Airline||1:1||Same day|
|Turkish Airlines||Airline||1:1||Same day|
|Virgin Red||Other||1:1||Same day|
|Accor||Hotel||2:1||Up to two business days|
|Choice Hotels||Hotel||1:1||Same day|
Read more: 7 Sweet Spots to Use Capital One Miles
Finally, you can book travel through the Capital One Travel portal using your Venture Miles. This method is especially useful for Venture X cardholders as you'll have a $300 annual travel credit to burn that must be used in the portal each and every year you hold the card.
With these three methods of booking travel, you'll have a ton of flexibility and options for your Venture Miles. That flexibility adds value and it's a big part of the reason we think Venture Miles are some of the best credit card points to earn this year.
How to Earn Capital One Venture Miles
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the bank’s very first premium travel card. Think of it as a souped-up version of the ever-popular Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card that’s chock full of extra benefits: Access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges, a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, great travel and rental car insurance protection, and more. The annual fee clocks in at $395 a year, but the benefits can easily outweigh that. It's the reason why we think the Venture X annual fee shouldn't scare you off.
Here’s the best part: You can currently earn 75,000 Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Considering you earn at least 2x for every dollar you spend on the Venture X Card, you’ll earn a total of at least 83,000 Venture Miles.
Click Here to learn more about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
Meanwhile, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card remains truly one of the best travel credit cards for beginners.
You earn 2x points on every purchase and even get a credit that covers the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck – all for a card with a $95 annual fee.
But the true allure for beginners is its easy-to-use Purchase Eraser to redeem miles for travel. Just charge any travel expense – flights, hotels, Airbnbs, tours, excursions, and so on – to your Venture Card. Then go back to use points to wipe the cost from your credit card statement.
Or, transfer Capital One miles straight to one of their 19 airline or hotel partners to maximize your miles. Capital One currently offers a welcome bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening. This is equal to $750 in travel purchases or can be transferred for up to 75,000 miles with partner airlines or hotels.
Click Here to learn more about current offers for the Capital One Venture card.
The Venture Rewards card isn’t the only card that can transfer miles. You can also transfer miles from the no-annual-fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Spark Miles Select for business cards. The VentureOne card earns 1.25x miles per dollar spent on all purchases and the Spark Miles Select card earns 1.5x miles per dollar on all purchases.
The VentureOne card has no annual fee but offers lower miles-earning opportunities: 1.25X miles on every purchase, and a 20,000-mile welcome bonus.
Click Here to learn more about the no-annual-fee Capital One VentureOne card.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
No points and miles earning strategy is complete without a stable of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. In fact, we recommend starting with Chase credit cards. That's because they get harder to acquire later on thanks to something called the Chase 5/24 Rule.
Like Capital One Venture Miles, the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points comes from their flexibility.
When it comes time to redeem Ultimate Rewards points, you'll have three options. First, you'll be able to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. When you go this route, you'll be able to book flights, hotels, rental cars, and more – and when you do, your points will be worth either 25% or 50% more, depending on which Chase Sapphire card you have.
If you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, your points will be worth 1.25 cents each through the Chase travel portal. Hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve®? Your points will be worth 1.5 cents apiece. So for example, booking $750 in travel would require 60,000 points for Sapphire Preferred cardholders and only 50,000 points for Reserve cardholders.
You'll also have the ability to send your Ultimate Rewards points to a list of Chase transfer partners. They have a bit of overlap on transfer partners with Capital One, but they also have a few unique options like United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Hyatt hotels, and more. Just as with Capital One, this is an excellent way to maximize the value of your Chase points.
Take a look at the full list of Capital One Transfer partners below.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Singapore Air||Airline||1:1||12-24 hours|
|World of Hyatt||Hotel||1:1||Instant|
|Marriott Rewards||Hotel||1:1||2 days|
Admittedly, utilizing the Chase transfer partners effectively will take a little bit more work, but it is the top way to get outsized value out of your Ultimate Rewards points.
How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is easily the best place to start.
You can earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. You’ll also earn 3x points for every $1 spent on dining, including eligible delivery services. You’ll earn 3x points per dollar spent on online grocery purchases, 3x points per dollar spent on select streaming services, and 2x points per dollar spent on travel purchases.
With just a $95 annual fee, it’s more than reasonable. And considering you’ll get at least $750 toward travel when booking through the Chase travel portal (or much more by using some of the transfer partners mentioned above), that’s a ton of value for a cheap travel credit card.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
For the more seasoned traveler looking for premium perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is still a great option. That’s because it comes with an outstanding set of benefits like an easy-to-use $300 annual travel credit, a free Priority Pass lounge membership, $100 toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment, and much more. Those perks can easily outweigh the $550 annual fee.
You’ll earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
If you hold the Sapphire Reserve, every point gets you 1.5 cents when booking directly through Chase. You’ll also get 3x points on every travel and dining purchase.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Unfortunately, you can’t stack both bonuses. Chase restricts cardholders to just one Sapphire card at a time, and you can’t earn the bonuses within 48 months of each other. These (and most Chase cards) also fall under the dreaded Chase 5/24 rule, which means you won’t get approved if you’ve opened five or more credit cards from any bank within the last 24 months.
That said, there’s another card that is a perfect complement to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Actually, there are two.
Enter the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards. These two Chase credit cards have no annual fee and typically earn cashback. But pair one with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve cards, and it forms a powerful tandem that can help you earn even more Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Finally, small business owners should give a hard look a pair of no-annual fee business cards: The Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card and the Chase Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card are both out with a $900 cash back bonus after spending just $6,000 in the first three months of card membership … with an easy path to turning those into 90,000 Chase points.
Related Reading: Have a Chase Sapphire Card? Here's What to Do Next
American Express Membership Rewards Points
Another spot on the list of the best credit card points to earn this year are American Express Membership Rewards points.
I might sound like a broken record, but again, the reason Membership Rewards points have a lot of value is due to the flexibility they have. You'll have two options for your points.
First, you can use them to book travel through Amex's travel portal – dubbed Amex Travel. Each Amex point will be worth 1 cent, regardless of which American Express credit card you have. That means a $500 flight or hotel would cost 50,000 Membership Rewards points.
But the real value for Amex Membership Rewards points, in particular, comes from the list of Amex transfer partners. Need to earn some Delta SkyMiles? You can transfer Membership Rewards points into your SkyMiles account to book some of the amazing Delta SkyMiles flash sales we send to our Thrifty Traveler Premium+ members.
But there are also great opportunities to send points to 15+ airlines for amazing value as well as a few hotel programs. for an amazing value. Again, you will find some overlap between both Capital One and Chase – and that's not a bad thing. But you will also find some unique options like Delta Air Lines, All Nippon Airways (ANA), and more.
Check out the full list of Membership Rewards transfer partners below.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific||Airline||1:1||1-7 days|
How to Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points
It starts off with an 80,000-point welcome bonus on The Platinum Card® from American Express after spending $6,000 within six months – and that alone is tough to beat. But you can do better.
Make sure to check to see if you are eligible for the outstanding 150,000-point offer via CardMatch! Otherwise, you can get at least a 100,000-point bonus through a targeted personal referral link or by searching for the Platinum Card in an incognito browser.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.
And then there’s the American Express® Gold Card, one of the best all-around credit cards, period. It earns 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 each year, then 1x) and restaurants. You'll earn a welcome offer bonus of 60,000 Amex points after spending $4,000 within six months.
But you may be able to get a 75,000-point welcome bonus via CardMatch or a 90,000-point targeted offer via a personal referral link.
Click Here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card.
With either card, you’ll have a hefty stash of points to put to use for some future travel that can easily offset their annual fees: $695 a year on the Amex Platinum (see rates & fees) and $250 for the Amex Gold Card (see rates & fees).
Renters, pay close attention: It's time to start earning points on your hefty monthly payments.
You can do it easily with Bilt Rewards. Bilt is a relative newcomer to the credit card and travel rewards game, but it has made a name for itself by allowing its cardholders to earn valuable transferrable points on monthly rent payments. Plus, the Bilt Rewards Mastercard card has no annual fee.
Essentially, you can earn points on your rent payment no matter where you live.
If your landlord is a member of the Bilt Rewards Alliance, you can easily pay your rent electronically through the Bilt Rewards app by securely linking your bank account. Even if your landlord is not affiliated with Bilt Rewards, you can still pay rent through Bilt with a check, fee-free, and earn points. That means that technically any renter is able to use Bilt Rewards.
It's still hard to earn a ton of these points – especially if you don't have the Bilt Card. But they make up for it with an unbeatable stable of transfer partners that arguably make Bilt Rewards points the most valuable travel rewards currency in the world. You can transfer points to both American and United, Hyatt, and a handful of other lucrative options.
Here's the full list:
|Aer Lingus Avios||Airline||1:1|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Airline||1:1|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||Airline||1:1|
|British Airways Avios||Airline||1:1|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Airline||1:1|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||Airline||1:1|
|Turkish Miles & Smiles||Airline||1:1|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||Airline||1:1|
|World of Hyatt||Hotel||1:1|
You can also redeem your points through the Bilt travel portal, but that's nowhere near as alluring as these transfer partners.
How to Earn Bilt Rewards Points
If you hold the Bilt Mastercard and make at least five transactions per statement period, you'll earn one point for each dollar of rent (up to 50,000 annually). That means a $2,000 rent payment = 2,000 Bilt points every month.
Click Here to learn more about the Bilt Rewards Mastercard.
You will also earn 2x points on travel when you book directly with an airline, hotel, car rental, or cruise line. Finally, the card will earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining plus 1x points per dollar spent on all other purchases, as long as cardholders make a minimum of five-card transactions in a statement period.
Bilt sweetens the deal on the first of each month with double the points on what it calls Bilt Rent Day.
Focusing on these three points currencies will open up literally hundreds, if not thousands, of possible redemption options. It's the beauty of transferrable credit card points and why they should be at the forefront of your points and miles earning strategy this year and every year.
Stop swiping your airline credit card everywhere you go and start focusing on piling up these points.